Department of Labor Celebrates National Disability Employment Awareness Month Bookmark and Share

October 1, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 1, 2013 Contact: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009

Vocational rehabilitation provides access to jobs, assisting both businesses and people with disabilities

AUGUSTA—The Maine Department of Labor will be raising awareness of the benefits of employing people with disabilities throughout the month of October. The theme of this year’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month is “We are EQUAL to the task.”

The Bureau of Rehabilitation Services (BRS), as part of the labor department, provides services to Maine residents with disabilities who want to join or return to the workforce. BRS provides career assessment, vocational training, support services for people with disabilities including assistance with obtaining adaptive equipment, job coaching and assistance and advice for employers who want to retain or hire employees who have disabilities.

“In 2012, about 206,000 people with disabilities lived in Maine. Everyone has something to contribute to our workforce and economy,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “Hiring people with disabilities is an excellent investment in a company’s human assets: research shows that they are loyal employees and loyal customers.”

BRS is highlighting several success stories of both the individuals with disabilities and the businesses the bureau has assisted. These will be posted on http://www.employmentforme.org and shared on the Department of Labor’s Twitter and Facebook pages.

“Vocational rehabilitation works with all kinds of employers, from small offices to hospitals to manufacturing facilities to distribution warehouses, to identify specific jobs that match a person with disabilities’ skillset,” explained Commissioner of Labor Jeanne Paquette. “Many people have misconceptions about what disabilities are or the types of jobs we can place people in.”

She said, “Let me dispel those stereotypes. We assist people with a range of disabling conditions and help them function at their best in the workplace. We have helped an adult with an autism spectrum disorder obtain a job in information technology making more than $50,000 a year. We have helped large retail chains find a reliable and steady workforce. This is a tremendous program that serves not only the employee and the employer, but every community in the state.”

“In the past year,” Paquette added, “BRS has assisted more than 900 individuals gain employment—an 18 percent increase from last year. Since the Vocational Rehabilitation program eliminated its waitlist in 2010, it has increased the number of people assisted by 67 percent.”

People can access the services of the Vocational Rehabilitation program through Maine’s statewide network of CareerCenters or by visiting http://www.employmentforme.org .

To find out the location of your local CareerCenter, call 1-888-457-8883 (TTY users dial Maine Relay 711) or visit http://www.mainecareercenter.com . Maine CareerCenters are an equal opportunity provider. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.

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The original version of this release incorrectly noted that the share of people served since the elimination of the Vocational Rehabilitation waitlist has increase 63 percent. It increased 67 percent. The correction is made above.

Correction: CORRECTION: The share of people served since the elimination of the Vocational Rehabilitation waitlist increased 67 percent, not 63 percent as originally written. The correction is made below.